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2011 NFL Draft Recap - AFC North
John Tuvey
May 17, 2011
 

NFC North  |  NFC South  |  NFC East  |  NFC West  |  AFC North  |  AFC South  |  AFC East  |  AFC West

CINCINNATI BENGALS

NEEDS FILLED — The Bengals nimbly played both sides of the coin, nabbing a playmaking receiver for Carson Palmer should he return and picking up a capable replacement if he truly wants out of Cincinnati. Marvin Lewis also found offensive line depth and help in a secondary that could lose two key contributors to free agency.

NEEDS IGNORED — Despite this draft being extremely deep in defensive linemen and the Bengals wanting to add help up front, they did not use any of their eight picks at the position. They also ignored a need at running back until the seventh round, though the stated plan is to bring back Cedric Benson.

BEST PICK — Clint Boling is a versatile offensive lineman in the mold of Cincy stalwart Andrew Whitworth; he could step immediately into the lineup at guard or replace 2009 first-rounder Andre Smith, who has struggled to stay healthy and thus far failed to live up to his draft status.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Dontay Moch was the fasted defensive end at the combine and at less than 250 pounds may wind up playing linebacker for the Bengals. It was an interesting pick considering the team’s need for beef in front of him and the likes of Jurrell Casey, Drake Nevis and Kenrick Ellis still on the board.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Green should step immediately into the starting lineup, though he’d have a higher first-year ceiling with Palmer; in fact, given the quarterback situation he might be the safest pick in a fantasy dynasty draft this fall. Dalton might be a low-end factor as well, running Jay Gruden’s West Coast offense with a solid running game and talented assortment of wideouts.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

NEEDS FILLED — Trading down out of the six spot the Browns opted for quantity over quality, though that’s not to say they didn’t find help. Cleveland’s first two selections, Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard, shore up the defensive line; their next two, wideout Greg Little and tight end Jordan Cameron, are steps toward giving Colt McCoy some weapons to work with.

NEEDS IGNORED — Perhaps they’re banking on a return to pre-injury form from Montario Hardesty, but the expectation was that Cleveland would find a back to complement workhorse Peyton Hillis and keep him from running out of gas like he did last season. Instead, the only running back the Browns selected was fullback Owen Marecic.

BEST PICK — Mike Holmgren is certainly hoping that Greg Little (2.27) makes the Dawg Pound forget he passed up a shot at Julio Jones, and Little has the talent (and opportunity) to prove him correct. From a value perspective, however, Cleveland’s best pick may have been offensive tackle Jason Pinkston. The Browns traded two sixth-round selections to move back into the fifth round and snare a player who may bookend with Joe Thomas for years to come.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — The obvious whiff is on not adding a playmaker like Julio Jones to an offense woefully devoid of such burst, but the Browns did get a plethora of picks in return and appear to be in slow-and-steady rebuild mode so the jury will remain out on the deal for some time. The short-term whiff may have been passing on a complementary speed back like Kendall Hunter or Taiwan Jones in favor of a fullback.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Little should move quickly into the starting lineup and could usurp Mohamed Massaquoi as McCoy’s go-to target; whether that has much fantasy value depends on how large your league is. The Browns made Evan Moore a fringe fantasy tight end factor last season, and if the athletic Cameron develops quickly he could make some dynasty noise down the road.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

NEEDS FILLED — Ozzie Newsome isn’t going to leave a draft unfulfilled, and this year was no exception to that rule. The Ravens let the draft board come to them, and it delivered cornerback Jimmy Smith in the first round, wide receiver Torrey Smith (whom many mocked to the Ravens in Round 1) in the second, and offensive lineman Jah Reid in the third.

NEEDS IGNORED — Like many teams, the Ravens were looking for linebackers in a thin 2011 draft class. With no value presenting itself, Baltimore passed on the position entirely and may have to scramble at the position with three potential free agents in their two-deep.

BEST PICK — While both Smiths not only filled key needs but were solid value picks as well, Newsome’s best find may have been Indiana wideout Tandon Doss late in Round 4. He has good size and great hands, runs solid routes, and could be an immediate replacement for what the Ravens hoped T.J. Houshmandzadeh would bring to the table.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — It’s tough to quibble with Ozzie’s decisions, but if we must the Ravens could have bypassed quarterback Tyrod Taylor in Round 6 and gone with linebacker Bruce Miller, who could have filled a pass-rushing role. Then Baltimore could have picked up undrafted QB Pat Devlin in Round 7 and groomed the fellow Blue Hen as Joe Flacco’s understudy.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin are both slated to be back in Baltimore, but Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth are UFAs and Marcus Smith is slated to be an RFA. Torrey Smith should move immediately into the lineup as a deep threat, while Doss could carve out playing time in the slot and eventually move into the lineup as a possession receiver when the veteran Mason calls it a career.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

NEEDS FILLED — The Super Bowl loss exposed Pittsburgh’s need for cornerback help, and their offensive line is still a work in progress. So it’s no surprise that three of the Steelers’ first four (and four of their first six picks) filled those positions.

NEEDS IGNORED — Seems like every year we talk about the Steelers needing to add a backup plan for veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton, and every year they ignore that need. So it should come as no surprise that none of the Steelers’ seven picks were spent on an interior defensive lineman.

BEST PICK — Cameron Heyward could turn out to be a real value at 1.31, and the Steelers made solid selections elsewhere in the draft, but snagging rush linebacker Chris Carter at 5.31 jumps out as a potential steal. An athletic if somewhat undersized DE/OLB with pass rushing skills, Carter fits the mold of what Pittsburgh expects out of that position.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Tough to spot a weak spot in Pittsburgh’s draft. The seventh round is one for fliers so this isn’t a dis of Baron Batch, but with both punter Daniel Sepulveda and kicker Shaun Suisham potential free agents and just one of each position off the board maybe that flier would have been better directed at a specialist.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Batch, an undersized pass-catching back, was the only skill position player the Steelers selected. He could usurp Mewelde Moore as the Steelers’ third-down back, but he’ll have to fight through Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, and Jonathan Dwyer for touches.

NFC North  |  NFC South  |  NFC East  |  NFC West  |  AFC North  |  AFC South  |  AFC East  |  AFC West


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